being a mom

Mommyish Facebook Live Q&A On Circumcision Recap: Foreskin Fun For Everyone!

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In case you missed it, we teamed up with The Whole Network, a nonprofit charity, in a Facebook Live Q&A yesterday to discuss all of your burning questions about the male genitalia. As an afterthought, I probably shouldn’t use the words “burning” and “male genitalia” in the same sentence ever again.

Overall, the live discussion went well, and we are eternally grateful to Larissa Black of The Whole Network for taking the time to chat with us and provide information about the intact movement. I personally was happy to see a rational, balanced back-and-forth conversation on the topic of circumcision since we all know how CRAY this subject can get.

Unfortunately, the circumcision decision often brings up a direct attack on parenting from other parents who have made different choices. My husband and I chose to circumcise our kids, and that is not a secret. Since their foreskin is never going to grow back, we support our choice for our family. If any of my friends objectively asked for my opinion, I would give it to them: I’m happy that we circumcised our kids. I would recommend it. I believe there is ample medical evidence to support it, if a parent so chooses. I would do it again if I had another son.

So there I stand, a pro-circumcision mom. Still, I was really interested to see the questions and answers in this CIRC JERK discussion because I am open to arguments on both sides. If you missed the Facebook fun yesterday, here are some of the best questions to help you make the circumcision decision for your own family:

1. Sam: Are there any cons to not getting circumcised?

Hi Sam. In our society there are many perceived cons associated with the natural, intact penis. Most of these are myth-based or easily managed with less invasive means than surgery. Cleanliness is one concern we hear about often. Many believe the male foreskin is inherently dirty or requires special care. It does not. Only clean the outside of the foreskin in youth- no retraction. Later in life, when the foreskin has loosened and become retractable, just a simple retract and rinse underneath in the shower is all that is needed. There’s also a study showing that circumcised boys require even more care than intact boys in the first few years of life.

2. Alexis: Curious to know what you think the biggest myth is regarding not circumcising a boy?

Alexis, that’s a tough one. We hear an awful lot of myths surrounding this topic. I think a big belief in the US is that everyone gets it done. According to the most recent numbers from the CDC, the infant circumcision rate in the US is at about 56%.

3. Elizabeth: What are some good ways to talk to relatives about circumcising their newborns? They know we don’t. I’d like to bring it up gently but I’m not sure how.

Elizabeth, that’s always tricky, especially when it’s family. Social media has been a great tool for sharing information. If you are Facebook friends with them, there are lots of wonderful graphics and articles you can share to start the conversation. We always recommend this one written by our founder Lauren Jenks. The information is accurate yet presented in a nonjudgmental way.

4. Vanessa: What are the benefits to circumcision?

Vanessa, there are some benefits infant to circumcision according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It should be noted, however, that their most recent stance issued in 2012 does state that these benefits are not great enough to recommend the routine circumcision of all newborn boys.

A lower risk of UTI has been established in circumcised boys, but the difference is only 1%. Given the high rate of risks and complications with circumcision, this is not a significant enough difference to justify the routine circumcision of infant boys. Urinary tract infections are rare and when they do occur, they respond well to antibiotics for both boys and girls.

There are other alleged benefits such as lower rate of STDs and HIV, yet these are highly contested. While some studies show a lower rate with circumcision, others show an elevated rate. (These are linked in the library on our website.) Regardless of whether a person is circumcised or intact, safe sex including condoms are necessary to prevent the spread of STDs.

5. Eve: What do you say to people who just don’t find foreskin aesthetically attractive?

Eve, we all have our own preferences in the bedroom and that’s okay. What a person needs to understand is, just because they personally find a circumcised penis more attractive does not mean their sons or their sons’ future sexual partners will feel the same way.

6. Alex Lee: I’ve read and seen conditions of phimosis – where retraction of the foreskin becomes too painful to perform. This leads to bacterial infection and can impact urination and sexual performance. I just wanted this to be acknowledged.

Hi, Alex Lee. Thank you for bringing up phimosis- I am happy to address that. First, it should be noted that phimosis can still occur in a circumcised child. It’s actually listed on the Stanford School of Medicine’s website as a possible complication of circumcision.

When a tight foreskin does occur, it can almost always be very easily treated with application of a prescription steroid cream along with foreskin stretching exercises. There are also devices that can be purchased to stretch the foreskin at home. Surgical intervention is rarely needed for a tight foreskin.

7. The Mediocre Mama: In the us, why is male circumcision typically seen viewed as acceptable while female circumcision is seen as mutilation/torture?

The Mediocre Mama, that is a wonderful question and I think it just boils down to cultural conditioning. In other countries, FGM is just as deeply ingrained as male circumcision is here. There are also many beliefs about FGM being different and worse than what is done to a little boy when the fact is there are many types of FGM ranging from a pinprick of the clitoris to sunat (removal of the clitoral hood) all the way up to infibulation, the rarest and least commonly practiced form. The AAP even tried to bring back legal rights to perform the ritual nick to little girls a few years ago, and they even admitted that it’s far less invasive than what we do to a little boy during routine circumcision.

8. Bethany: Do you have any commentary on the recent pro-circumcision study?

First it should be noted this paper is not the result of any actual new research. A man by name of Brian Morris, who hails from Australia and is not a medical doctor, pored over the studies posted on Pubmed and cherry-picked information to come to these conclusions. I’m honestly surprised it was published at all. His statistics are not accurate and again, referring to circumcision as a surgical “vaccine” has dangerous implications that the child will be immune to STDs.

(Image:Β Lemuana/Shutterstock)

 

47 Comments

  1. Butt Trophy Recipient

    April 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    This is nice and all, but I came away with the Butt Trophy

    πŸ˜›

    Also, great write up Beth. The first time we saw “burning” “genitalia” and CIRC JERK in the same article.

    • Valerie

      April 18, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      CIRC JERK FTW!

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 18, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      I was very excited about my innuendos πŸ˜‰

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      “Innuendos”? You’re slapping us upside our heads with your innuendos there chicky!

      LOL

  2. Sharon Ramage

    April 18, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    She honestly seemed a little biased towards not circumcising…that’s just my opinion though.

    • Kendra

      April 18, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      I felt the exact same way just reading through this bit.

    • guest

      April 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      The article mentions that Larissa Black is from the Whole Network, which is an anti-circumcision organization. Of course her stance would be in favor of not circumcising.

    • Sharon Ramage

      April 18, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      Yes, perhaps she is. I didn’t pay much attention to that I suppose, I just assumed she was neutral. I for one would love to hear from someone completely unbiased for once. Just give me the damn facts, its all I want!

    • CMJ

      April 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      There is a pediatrician that has commented on these threads who is really awesome. Extremely neutral and really looks at it from both sides.

    • Sharon Ramage

      April 18, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Oh awesome! Ill have to find it πŸ™‚

    • Alex Lee

      April 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      Yeah, I try to see all sides of the foreskin.

      wait.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Wait, reading some of her responses, I thought it was clear she was anti-circ… was she supposed to be neutral?

    • Kendra

      April 18, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      I assumed she was supposed to be neutral just reading this article because I don’t realize the network was specifically anti-circ. I thought this was supposed to be like an “information sharing” type of thing.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 18, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      Well, I mean, read the obviously obvious in-between-the-line opinion in #3 that Sarah pointed out.

      I dunno about her organization, but that lady couldn’t be more anti-circ.

    • brebay

      April 19, 2014 at 1:32 am

      Sounded anti to me also.

  3. Sarah

    April 18, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    3. Elizabeth: What are some good ways to talk to relatives about circumcising their newborns? They know we don’t. I’d like to bring it up gently but I’m not sure how.

    Correct answer: There is no polite way to talk to relatives (or anyone for that matter) about how they shouldn’t circumcise their sons because it is none of your business. You are going to look like a complete jackass. I’m sure they don’t give a fuck what you do with your son’s foreskin and I can’t imagine why you think your opinion on this matter would affect them in the slightest.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 18, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      Yeah, that one was a little… aggressive.

    • mommabeer

      April 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      I love that she points out using social media. Um, no your entire friends list does not need to know what’s going on with your son’s penis

  4. Chuck

    April 18, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Planning to circumcise my daughter…just have to find a doctor that will do it. What…the clitoris is an “unfinished” penis. I should be able to use these bias results to get it done.

    • Sarah

      April 18, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Do you really not know the difference between a foreskin and a clitoris? Jeez Chuck, I feel sorry for any woman you come in contact with :/

    • Chuck

      April 18, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Yes I do! Apparently, women don’t know anything about foreskin…but go ahead and hack away. It’s just a penis that you will never have to account for.

    • Sarah

      April 18, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      All the men I know who had to be circumcised late in life say there is no difference in sexual pleasure. Find me a woman whose clitoris was removed who can say that. I’m guessing you’re one of those “circumcision survivors” who still lives in his mom’s basement though, so I’m not shocked by your lack of knowledge regarding the female orgasm.

    • St

      April 19, 2014 at 12:22 am

      Really? You know SO many men that have had to be circumcised later in life?

    • Sarah

      April 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

      I know 8 men who had to circumcised after becoming sexually active. I also know a few who had to be circumcised as young children. I did a lot of research before circumcising my son and I asked people I know a lot of inappropriate questions…and yes, I think that’s quite a lot considering I was born in the midwest where almost everyone circumcises to begin with.

    • Chuck

      April 19, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Yet, more than half the world isn’t. However, women know best about males, so it’s only fair that men continue to make decision about females body. How can women talk productive rights…while chopping off little boys foreskin?

    • Sarah

      April 19, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      What are “productive rights”? You’re too fun

    • Chuck

      April 20, 2014 at 8:08 am

      Oh, you just stupid now!

    • Sarah

      April 20, 2014 at 8:19 am

      Chuck, they’re called reproductive rights. Have a good day!

    • Chuck

      April 20, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      You to jerk.

    • Chuck

      April 19, 2014 at 6:01 am

      It’s you who lack knowledge. Intact penis are more sensitive than circumcise men…that’s a fact Jack! But like women say as parent it’s there decision, so it should be my decision to circumcise my daughter. I won’t remove the entire thing, just similiar to the male procedure. Unless, it’s a botch surgery, which does happen to little boys…in worst cases they lose there penis. Now, DH…which is worst?

      And your claim about men getting circumcise later in life is bullshit!

    • Sarah

      April 19, 2014 at 9:52 am

      I think the hamster has stopped running in that wheel of a brain of yours, buddy.

      “Intact penis are more sensitive than circumcise men…that’s a fact Jack!”

      Actually, this is not a fact, Jack. How on earth could something as subjective as sexual pleasure be measured in scientific terms..? Especially when you are usually asking men who have no idea what the other option feels like?

      “Unless, it’s a botch surgery, which does happen to little boys…in worst cases they lose there penis.”

      What the hell are you talking about? Complications occur in less than 1% of US circumcisions and only a very tiny fraction of those are serious at all. I think you meant “their” penis.

      “And your claim about men getting circumcise later in life is bullshit!”

      Um…no it isn’t? That isn’t my “claim”, that is the opinion of men I know who have experienced sex both ways.

      “Dumass”

      The word “dumb” actually has a B in it.

      “Sounds like you still sitting on her daddy knee playing with his chest hairs.”

      O_O

      “And who’s talking orgasm…I’m talking about chopping skins. ”

      For someone like yourself who has a PhD in biology, you sure don’t seem to understand the clitoris and its main function. Many women can only experience orgasm through clitoral stimulation. Look it up, learn about it, make someone happy tonight.

      Thanks, this was fun!!

    • Chuck

      April 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      You just stupid. You brought up the orgasm…this isn’t a discussion point about circumcision. It about look, cleaning, etc…why isn’t that the same philosophy for women. The topic is about circumcision. Women bitch about men making decision about their body, but are hypocrites about baby boys.

    • CMJ

      April 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      *Dumbass

    • Chuck

      April 20, 2014 at 8:07 am

      Ms. Dumass!

    • Chuck

      April 19, 2014 at 6:16 am

      In fact, boys and girls have foreskin. It goes back to my “unfinished” penis statement, but you too stupid to verify it. Biology 101 should be in your near future…dummy.

    • brebay

      April 19, 2014 at 1:31 am

      Wow, that explains why circumcised men hate sex so much. Thanks, Chuck, mystery solved!

    • brebay

      April 19, 2014 at 1:30 am

      biased.

  5. marge

    April 19, 2014 at 8:06 am

    So mommyish is now defending FGM? How progressive. I suppose your research on that is as reliable as your paper by child pornographer Morris. Goodbye.

    • Diana

      April 19, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Morris isn’t a child pornographer, he just hangs out with them, defends them and supports them. In addition to being quack and fetishist. Next time someone on here posts an article about crazy Andrew Wakefield followers are maybe we should all remind them of their own support for Morris.

    • Marny

      April 20, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Don’t lump pro-circumcision pedophiles in with anti-vaccine supporters. It makes you look like a fool.

  6. cliff

    April 19, 2014 at 8:11 am

    So Ramos is now distancing herself from the article she wrote defending and promoting the Morris report. Maybe an official retraction would save what little credibility this magazine still has?

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 19, 2014 at 8:42 am

      NOPE, I support that article 100%. I am merely able to explore all sides of the issue. I believe I made it clear that I am pro-circ and that it has medical backing. Not sure how you gathering that by me asking a simple question for the purpose of an interview.

      No retraction needed because I support the Morris report.

    • cliff

      April 19, 2014 at 9:13 am

      Ok so to clarify, you consider him ( Brian Morris) a reliable/accurate/unbiased source for scientific information on the subject of circumcision and don’t have reservations about his approach to the subject?

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 19, 2014 at 10:40 am

      I am not considering myself an expert on this topic, but yes, I support what I read in the Brian Morris study. I also support every family’s right to make their own choice.

  7. cliff

    April 19, 2014 at 8:21 am

    It does not ‘boil down to cultural conditioning ‘ its a practice that exists for the sole purpose of reducing female sexual pleasure and results in thousands of deaths every year. Stats from AAsay

    “Complications Are Common and Can Lead to Death

    The highest maternal and infant mortality rates are in FGM-practicing regions. 17 The actual number of girls who die as a result of FGM is not known. However, in areas in the Sudan where antibiotics are not available, it is estimated that one-third of the girls undergoing FGM will die. 18 Conservative estimates suggest that more than one million women in Centrafrican Republic (CAR), Egypt, and Eritrea, the only countries where such data is available, experienced adverse health effects from FGM. 19 One quarter of women in CAR and 1/5 of women in Eritrea reported FGM-related complications. 20 Where medical facilities are ill-equipped, emergencies arising from the practice cannot be treated. Thus, a child who develops uncontrolled bleeding or infection after FGM may die within hours. 21

    Immediate Physical Problems

    Intense pain and/or hemorrhage that can lead to shock during and after the procedure. A 1985 Sierra Leone study found that nearly 97 percent of the 269 women interviewed experienced intense pain during and after FGM, and more than 13 percent went into shock. 22 Hemorrhage can also lead to anemia. Wound infection, including tetanus. A survey in a clinic outside of Freetown (Sierra Leone) showed that of 100 girls who had FGM, 1 died and 12 required hospitalization. Of the 12 hospitalized, 10 suffered from bleeding and 5 from tetanus. 24 Tetanus is fatal in 50 to 60 percent of all cases. 25 Damage to adjoining organs from the use of blunt instruments by unskilled operators. According to a 1993 nationwide study in the Sudan, this occurs approximately 0.3 percent of the time. 26 Urine retention from swelling and/or

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  9. Jenkins

    October 14, 2014 at 3:21 am

    I will never understand how little attention is paid to how the grown man this will impact. Kudos for it being addressed at all, but when i read so many people say “its none of your business what is in my child’s diapers” it is so glaringly ironic that the same people dont realize they are actually saying it IS their business what is going on in the underwear of a full grown man. These are not simply babies being discussed, they are humans. I find it very disturbing that my mother and her personal sexual hang ups found their way into my pants.

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